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Building a House with Shipping Containers

NEW YORK-based architecture studio LOT-EK has completed a large single-family home constructed from shipping containers in Brooklyn.

LOT-EK has become something of a shipping container specialist over the years, having designed showrooms, a pop-up gallery space and even camping facilities out of these ubiquitous units of modern logistics.

Above: Puma City pop-up showroom by LOT-EK, an earlier project showing how the practice uses shipping containers in their projects ( image courtesy of LOT-EK). 

Despite initial assembly being very fast (see the above video), building with containers presents many challenges: the modules can be very limiting, adding services and insulation can be difficult, and the paint used to prevent corrosion of the containers as they cross the sea is often toxic (it must be removed during construction).

Above: LOT-EK demonstrated that it is possible to build a spacious family home from containers (image courtesy of LOT-EK).

However, as this video shows, it can be possible to build a spacious family home from shipping containers.

The structural benefits of the containers themselves was reduced by the removal of walls to create open plan spaces internally. This, combined with the need for a cantilever over the underground parking garage meant that a supporting steel structure was necessary to support the house.

Above: The cantilevered form of the house necessitated use of an steel frame (image courtesy of LOT-EK).

In total, 21 shipping containers were used. They were painted brown, a tongue-in-cheek reference to New York’s desirable brownstone townhouses.

The interior is clad in reclaimed wood to match the colour of the exterior. On the exterior itself, the building’s wedge-like shape meant that parts of containers could be cut away and rotated, creating large terraces facing the back of the plot.

Above: The interior has been kept free of walls and opens onto expansive terraces (image courtesy of LOT-EK).

The actual installation of the containers took only four days. However, the overall build took a year as foundations had to be laid, the containers needed to be cleaned, insulated, wired and made weatherproof, and an internal fit-out carried out.

Despite the drawbacks and limitations, containers have been used in many hundreds of building projects around the world.

Earlier this year we shared some photo-realistic renders of the "Joshua Tree Residence" on our Facebook page. Originally conceived by James Whitaker for a proposed office project in Germany, the splayed arrangement of white shipping containers is now being built as a private home in the Californian desert.

Above: The proposed "Joshua Tree Residence" in California (image courtesy of Whitaker Studio).

You can learn more about LOT-EK and their work here. Video footage used courtesy of LOT-EK.


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